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tv   Duncan White Cold Warriors  CSPAN  October 11, 2019 1:15am-2:00am EDT

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>> good evening everyone per >> good evening. thank you for joining us tonight. on behalf of harvard bookstore welcome to this evenings event we are in conversation. for support programs to enhance and the lives of those in massachusetts.
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we have some national book award finalist coming up. please know you'll be recorded and wait for the microphone to come. then we will have a book signing right here at the stable. i like to take a moment to say thank you to coming for the harvard bookstore.
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[applause] now i'm very pleased to introduce tonight speakers. duncan way is the history of literature professor and in the and as a historian for the soviet union with the professor of eurasiand studies also the director tonight they are here to discuss cold warrior that is praised that
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now more than never we need a book like this to remind us of the importance we are so pleased to have them here with us tonight please join me in welcoming our speakers. [applause] >> we have five different kinds of microphones. [laughter] congratulations for can we have this on the day of your publication. >> it's exciting i had 20 interviewser this morning already. [laughter] >> so early in the book you call it a group biography that
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tell us what is the book so the idea of the book was to tell a comprehensive history of the cold war the literary cold war through the collapse of communism and the first drop ahead of the idea was to do it thematically with issues like censorship and repression and these ideas but then i thought it might work better as a group biography that could focus on a handful of writers weaving through the story to focus in on their life.
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>> and one of the people that you open with is orwell. and that on the civil war which i am already excited it is super thrilling. like having a double agent and it is fascinating that orwell known for his journalism and you have been a journalist so then here's the moment when they figure out they can do more with fiction so did you have a moment with fiction writers? i don't know so what are your feelings on what you can do?
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>> yes. but i think that is just fascinating it has to be reasonable and yes those that we think about he had these experiences for what was going on in spain and to be disenchanted of that and came back and in soviet communism and i do think it's marvelous it is incredibly rigorous and
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disciplined in the way he tried to tell a story in complex detail and nobody read it. and then to say how do i get this across and this is the parable of the child's fairy tale. so that's how he goes back and thinks about as a child's fairy tale. >> so when i was growing up so people of our generation and
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that his parents was after the war came down. one - - after the wall came down and then they would take us over and those that were fascinated by literature but it is on the fringes of his
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cousin nicholas was involved and i found it fascinated and started looking and those slavic studies from at the same time and with the cia influence that to look at how they work beyond iron curtain. >> so you go to the neighbors pool that they are actually spies. >> yes.
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and now all of a sudden the way the book is written and then you get to that chapter we are in this logicad of espionage. so that was a trick to write it like that in the style of the novel so why quick. >> it is exciting. in my own academic work wanted people to get excited about literature in ways i did when i was reading it and the temptation to distance yourself from it. i thought i would try to adopt this style that they were
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experts so that narrative they just weren't trying to make it fun but is one of the more sweeping accounts of the cultural cold war so the agency of writers is removed they become pockets or chess pieces and with those sinister forces and that's an easy thing to think that that was so much more complicated and messy than this account of the cold war so that was to tell
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it from that perspective and that dynamic in that position to be caught in those forces. >> so there is a narrative driven book but you do make the cases and one is very persuasive that you are accustomed to thinking about the way corporate politics shaped culture but we think the way of these workers of the cold war. but it's still more than most. >> yes.
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so he is there partly because to connect some of these writers to the cold war in fascinating ways and to use that as a fictional model and then to have the same interest of espionage he loved nothing more and then they were just making stuff up. some of them were just getting beer money and so this idea is
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the spy event or - - inventor. >> your chapter is amazing because we are not unfamiliar with this information campaign on a massive scale but nothing seems less plausible because of what happened in the background. that you were established very early with the question of complicity to figure out how much the writers are involved so from the introduction you declared that because of course now we know that these
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common writers were indirectly funded by the cia so then you get to the trial of who claims the work is a political but then yet it is published for us and that ideology is complicated that is in a completely different way. >> using the gulags you were excusing stalin.
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so what does that say about the vietnamese and i felt so many because they would get a pass but they did incredible work on the manuscript and telling truth to power in many ways but allowing them to escape and then to become complicit because this was snatched up like cia funded operations. so to them this was a deal and
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that the tragedy at the end of the cold case they were accusing them of some crazy stuff that you have been published by these magazines which is the cold war propaganda. and then to be complicit with the west. >> so what are you doing with culture in that chapter quick. >> this was in the sixties and the book was the unbelievable best seller and transformed into a movie.
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she moved to paris and married a state department official and was fiercely opposed to the vietnam war. with a left-wing isolationist and to say it was a disaster. and there were some magnificent cases from saigon. she was a tough cookie and with that official rhetoric and with that euphemism and with those us policies that then she goes back again and
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then to look at the american interest with her own instincts with her own propaganda and with the north vietnamese and at one point she accepted and was told that in this moment with the american pows and she wrote about them because she wanted to make a point how these american pilots were dumb and uneducatede and chewed up
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through the poor education system with these atrocities. and with that clinical description to find out they were tortured over the preceding months even someone as smart and sharp so i was just fascinated by the drama and trying to navigate. >> it is very powerful but
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then as we figure in those of the two identical poles so do you feel that there are those who are more or less that are stranded? who then is looking for the outside but then if you write it in this way it makes it seem like yesterday. but then the guru login so on
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but then it is the international political stage. in this sense it is very difficult to imagine solidarity now all of a sudden you say that's like yesterday so do you feel your writers are caught in the middle quick. >>. >> he's part of the establishment. that he is searching.
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and with this bipartisan conflict it is impossible to escape in many ways with those economic pressures and the market and went for the conference with the congress for cultural freedom but that was the cia funded operation. and then to be caught up of the cold war and then jim crow america but what you will see it is divided as racist white
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people because they werese excluded from this meeting. and then there are echoes of the impasses that we have. >>. >> so with questions of the ideological polarization so i wonder is you are writing this what about the cold war incident? so this idea that and in the
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cold war that legacy is clear to be seen and those ideas are so powerful and that is the important aspect so there is no communist regime of north korea but with a sliding scale of capitalism and so they make that very eloquently not to say there are many echoes it
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isn't cold war nostalgia but yes that hostility with russia but yes. >> and some little easter egg that is hidden in the research that gets buried. >> is that something that you discover quick. >> i have no idea.
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of how these guys were in the gravity it is just j astonishin. and so many of these other figures in history to see in that human element. >> what are your ideas you might right next quick. >>ck i have an idea for a book but i am looking at creating a panic in the united kingdom and the germans and the german
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spiess there is an interesting story to be told and how these panics were disseminated and then on the part. >>. >> and to be published in the cia. >> what other choice could he have had quick.
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>> this is the inescapable ability is writing to me is fascinating so they are pretty bewildered. and the reason why is because of the cold war but now to hold him personally accountable for that that is the whole idea that came out of politics and they disagree with that.
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does that answer your question? thank you. >>. >> but that historical political figures more than what we have with the risk of translation and then they took everything else but what he was left with was the german
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original so it's fascinating to see what changes there are. >> i don't know but publishing that updated version would be fascinating. but it sold out. and really challenge those and how they were thinking and it was on the chaotic circumstance circumstances.
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>> i was thinking about this with the two major understanding of culture and how it changes over time. so with complicity and how they change over time and that version and just to be anchored in the approach and
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with that implicationon with the ttates and playful interaction but is the case they didn't have quite a traditional view and maybe was more modest spanning the larger population
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of that was not just intellectuals but that ordinary opposition but it was that quite traditional and that idea about culture. >> i would imagine. >> are you for the vietnam war or against it? and to recognize and then to
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navigate. >>. read the first five pictures so as the vault opens and then there is an explosion of text. so i'm wondering if you are reading if it looks back on the structure or the argument i didn't get far enough but it feels like that is interesting
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so to see that they are not available and it was crazy and over a couple of years these masterpieces become available you go to a bookshop and now it said in the available. so it would be hard to imagine what it would be like especially to be an older citizen and have all of this space over a few months at the same time of the archives and
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that was publicized and that literature and people reading who is the editor for the new yorker? he would just see everybody reading all the time they were just consuming all this stuff. >> you talk about language does the translation of language come in at all clicks
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previously there is only other translation translations. >> a lot of energy went into the translation the translation of animal farm into polish so they produced it with paper stock a different translation but then they flew them over and then there were 20 copies. [laughter] but there were many ways to be
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the best literary assessmente like doctor zhivago is he good? [laughter] so it really is that accomplished assessment so that facility withac english they gave access to western tax one - - text can bring you under suspicion. >> that's a great question. >> this is a difficult question so is this the book that hemingway wrote quick. >> i don't know to be honest i
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would be surprised so this is at the height of control spirit the original transitioner but then that was circulated. >> probably in the sixties and then the soviet journalist so
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everyone has a nom de plume. but i don't know. and you do re-create that very effectivelyth some of that was fun to write so that was fascinatin fascinating. >> these are great stories but how did it matter at the end of the day. >> that's a good question because both sides emulated
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literature beyond its calming utility with its propaganda how do you measure the polish farme farmer? [laughter] but it is like foreseeing the mechanism like an arms race in one sense or another it is fascinating so you see thatt definitive shift happening like the archipelago and the momenthe when you see attitudes andou european communist change
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in a way i do think they fail to the course of the cold war. >> thank you for coming out i appreciate it. thank you so much. [applause] schedule or
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